We done walk all the walk, corner all the corner. From James Robertson to Masha, Aguda, Fountain to Census, Bode Thomas, Ogunlano, Adeniran Ogunsaya, Randle, Ojuelegba, you name it. — Eyitemi Atie, Lekki
Our questions are italicized.
What’s your favourite memory about the street you grew up on?
I grew up on Folashade Close, Off Falolu in Surulere. I had an amazing time living there, one of the reasons being my school (St Mary’s Nursery and Primary School) was on the same close. I lived at №6 and I think my school was №8 or 10, I can’t really recall. It was an interesting period for me, I learned how to ride a bike there. All the kids in the close knew each other so it was really fun growing up there. I remember when we didn’t have water, we would go to the neighbor’s house which was a few blocks away. They had a well we usually fetched water from. After fetching, we would put the water on our heads and walk home. Beside my house, there was a lady who had a shop, she sold Baba Dudu, Kulikuli and all those sweets we loved. Back then, you could find any type of candy at her shop. My compound had a duplex with a boys’ quarters, we lived in the boys’ quarters. The compound had a long walkway leading to the gate — the walkway had banana trees, bitter leaves, and some other plants. It was a beautiful sight to see, I’d say cute and petite. We had a nanny who took care of my granny, she usually made meat pies and fish rolls which she sold at my school.
What’s the longest you’ve had to travel for something?
The longest I have had to travel would be from Ladipo to Awoyaya for a 10-minute meeting. I was so pained: I left Ladipo at 9:30 a.m. and arrived at Awoyaya around 1:30 p.m. only to leave 10 minutes later. It cost me ₦6,300 with a cab.
What’s your daily commute?
Because I like to avoid the Lagos traffic as much as possible, I prioritize my moves. I work at a country club called Fairacres which is in Awoyaya and when I’m on the mainland I stay at my mum’s place in Ladipo, it’s close to the mechanic workshop I work out of. Yes! I am a female mechanic and spear parts dealer. I also make and sell shito for the fun of it. My mum stays on Odusina Street, and the mechanic workshop is located on the street behind hers — Olorotoyin Street. If I am in Ladipo and I have to be at Fairacres, I leave ahead of time and go back to my place at Ikota Villa which is much closer to Fairacres. Before the pandemic, at Fairacres, I usually had 2 days off, aside from weekends. Since the pandemic, I only go there when I have meetings. So, from Ikota Villa I take a cab to Fairacres which cost me about ₦700 — ₦1,300. Before the pandemic, I’d usually take a bus, that cost me ₦150. I board the bus at Mega Chicken, and it takes me to New Road at Awoyaya.
When did you start selling car parts and fixing cars?
I have always loved cars and the pandemic made me take advantage of my environment. I moved back to my mum’s place at Ladipo. Ladipo is the biggest car spare parts market in Africa. During the lockdown in 2020, people had car troubles, some needed batteries, and other parts. I promised to get them some quality and affordable batteries, that was the beginning of me selling car parts. One day, I decided to step into the workshop for some training, so I could gain more knowledge on what I sell. I had a good time and I have grown more curious ever since. Now I mainly work on Japanese cars.
How do you usually source your car parts? Where do they come from? Say I need a battery today, what would be the route to getting and delivering that battery?
I have people who sell car parts to me at wholesale prices and they are mostly around Ladipo. They all have specific car parts they deal in, engine, gearbox, brain box, coils, plugs, oil, etc. It’s a three-minute walk from my mum’s house to the battery shop. The shop is located just beside GT Bank in Ladipo. So, once you tell me the type of battery you need, I’ll let you know how much. When payment is made, I call a dispatch rider to come to pick it up. I always make sure I inspect parts before they are sent out.
What’s the most challenging part you’ve ever had to source?
It’ll have to be parts for cars that aren’t so common in Nigeria. A few days ago, I got a request for a 2002 Audi TT timing belt and I’m yet to get the belt. How it works is, if the car is not in demand, finding parts for it would be challenging.
And the easiest?
The easiest would be parts for cars like Toyota and Honda. Fan belts, side mirrors, alternators, and shock absolvers, those are very easy to source for.
Car, Okada, Bus — what’s the best mode of getting around Lagos?
I think a car is best. Sometimes when it gets really late and you don’t have access to a bus or Okada. A car is the only available option. Some areas don’t allow Okada plus there’s the ban now. So yeah, car all the way.
Can you drive?
Yes, I can drive.
What’s something Lagosians get wrong about cars?
From my experience, I’d say Lagosians are quick to conclude on what the problems with their cars are — instead of allowing the mechanics to investigate the issue based on their experience. It feels as if once they make up their minds the mechanic can’t really say otherwise. One time, some people brought in this Nissan SUV for repairs. I think the issue with the car was the way it sounded after putting it on. The people who brought the car kept saying it was the sensor, that they had already spoken to their friend who is a Nissan expert, and the person said it was the sensor. Meanwhile, all it needed was calibration which is way cheaper than replacing a sensor. But they did not even give room for the mechanics to make their own findings. So, when they left, the mechanics worked on the calibration and the car picked up, everything worked fine. However, when the people who brought the car returned, they got charged for the sensor even though the sensor was never touched. I understand that people don’t want mechanics doing trial and error with their cars so they tend to have a perception of what the issue is before bringing it in, without even paying attention to what the mechanics even have to say.
What’s one thing people may not know about driving from Ladipo to Awoyaya?
I have never driven from Ladipo to Awoyaya, I mostly go from Ikota Villa to Awoyaya. The one time I went from Ladipo to Awoyaya, I used a cab, and it was a stressful trip because there was a lot of traffic and I spent ₦6,300.
What’s an obvious part of Lagos that you’ve never visited?
I have never been to Ajegunle and Mowe. Ikorodu used to be on the list of places I haven’t visited but I went there last week so it’s off.
What’s one place in Lagos everyone should visit before they turn 20?
You know growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s we visited places like the National Theatre, to see plays and for school excursions. It’s something I feel every child growing up in Lagos needs to experience at some point. I don’t know if it’s still the same now, but I bet the kids now would rather go see a 3D movie at the cinema. So, I’d just say Lekki Conservation Centre.
When was the last time you visited a new street?
The last time a visited a new street was on the 4th of July, 2020. A place called Oral View Estate, just after the second toll booth, on the right side of the road. A really beautiful estate.
What’s something you know about Lagos that not too many people know?
That would be Fairacres. Fairacres is a country club, it’s a 14-acre land with a manmade lake (you can go kayaking), a volleyball court, squash court, gym, an olympic-size swimming pool, a stage, a movie room, a top bar, a pool bar, an indoor bar, a café, a play area, a spa and a really big garden for various activities. Most people who have been there described it as a detox area. You can have parties, weddings, photo and video shoots there. It’s a two-minute drive from Green Springs. Green springs is right beside Coscharis Motors before Awoyaya Bus stop.
What’s a route in Lagos you know by heart?
A Lagos route I know by heart has to be Surulere. Anywhere in and around Surulere. We done walk all the walk, corner all the corner. From James Robertson to Masha, Aguda, Fountain to Census, Bode Thomas, Ogunlano, Adeniran Ogunsaya, Randle, Ojuelegba, you name it.
So, what’s the quickest way to cover all of Surulere’s major streets?
Well, growing up in Surulere I mostly walked around, except I had to go somewhere like Lawanson. So, starting from my street at Folashade, once I leave Folashade taking a right takes me towards Akerele, and taking left takes me towards Ojuelegba or Lawanson. Back then, it was like a ₦30 bus from Folashade to Ojuelegba. I don’t know how much it costs now but I’m certain you can’t get a bus for ₦30. From Akerele you can link Shita. Coming from Akerele the Shita Roundabout has three exits, one leads to Masha, another leads towards the Teslim Balogun Stadium which leads to Western Avenue. The third exit from the Shita Roundabout takes you to Adeniran Ogunsanya, which leads to Bode Thomas, Eric Moore is off Bode Thomas. I think that’s all I can recall for now.
What’s one thing you always look forward to seeing on your street?
On my close at Ikota Villa, I look forward to seeing stable electricity; full current. It’s a nice area but the current is always low.
What’s the most you’ve had to pay to get from one place to another in Lagos?
That would be ₦6,300 for my trip from Ladipo to Awoyaya.
The last location you texted or tweeted is where you’ll live next, it’s:
Ladipo Spare Parts.
You’re going to a place you’ve always wanted to visit and can only take one thing. Where are you going and what are you taking?
That would be Oia, Santorini, Greece, for the spectacular view. I’d love to visit the island of Therasia and also see the Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni islands. The one thing I’d take would be my phone, so I can capture every moment.
Eyitemi Atie is a Human Development and Psychology graduate, who manages a country club called Fairacres. She is also a female mechanic and autoparts dealer.
Routes by GatePass is mapping African stories one route at a time. This project sits at the intersection of life stories and mobility in African contexts. Through Routes, we explore how African lives are shaped by mobility, migration, journeys and modes of transport; and how places take on the stories of the people who have visited or passed through them.
Do you or someone you know have an interesting mobility story? Do you have a hack for moving around your city, or know something about your city’s history that not too many people know? Tell your story. We’re open to submissions and looking forward to reading!
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Editor / Publisher — Wale Lawal
Sub-Editor — Muyideen Dosumu
Interviewer — Nosa Osunde
Illustrator — Samson Msheila